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Capitol Fire

Damage to Library Collections

Much of the New York State Library's collections were lost in the 1911 fire. Below are some examples of documents from the NYS Library collections that survived the fire, though with damage.

Damage to Library Collections Gallery

Dutch letter with disintegrated burned sides

Having been carefully preserved in the hands of the family for more than 250 years, the Van Rensselaer Manor Papers were severely damaged within a few hours to the extent that hardly a single item is intact and utmost patience was required to translate them. The remnant of the letter of Arent van Curler to the Patroon Kiliaen van Rensselaer, 16 June 1643, vividly depicts the ravages of the fire.

Document with singed edges and curled out of shape

Another document, showing both water and fire damage.

Index card with burned edges on top

Some of the cards in the card catalog, many of them hand-written but some typed, survived the fire because they had been housed in drawers that had only begun to burn when the firemen arrived on the scene.